January 4, 2012

Talking widgets

A tweet by a teacher and teacher trainer from Greece I respect very much, Marisa Constantinides, made me want to check the web page she mentioned as a good place to use to practice listening, http://www.acapela-group.com/index.html. I clicked on “Demos and More“ to see what kind of help in teaching listening they offer.

There is a number of possibilities for the use of this site. There is no price list but I didn't get the impression the services are expensive. If I created a lot of material, I'm sure I would send them an email explaining my needs, because what they offer sounds very interesting: help for visually impaired users, easy vocalization of newspapers and other materials, talking stories, “word wizard“, games... I'm sure even teachers who create a lot of materials for listening practice can use this service well, but I'm not one of them: I use a lot of listening exercises that come with the course books and also a lot of free listening materials from the Internet, so I haven't paid for creating my listening materials so far.

What I found useful was a talking widget. When I needed voice for my online communication with students, I have so far used only Voki and liked it a lot. While checking this site, I noticed a possibility of creating a talking widget and I decided to try it.

Creating a talking widget is very easy: there is a space for your text and I typed the text I wanted my students to hear. Then I chose the language and voice with one click of my mouse – English, Lucy, UK. All I had to do next was to choose the colours and the size for my widget and get the embed code.

My talking widget

talking widget by Acapela Group

I quite liked the widget: it took me only a few minutes to embed it, the sound is good, it looks nice on the page, and it is a lot more attractive way to post a message to students than a written note.

When I compare it to Voki, it is much simpler because there is no creation of the avatar, which can be good and bad, depending on how much time you have and how attractive you need your widget to be. Voki also gives you the opportunity to record your own voice, which is a nice feature and makes the widget more personal, not to speak about endless possibilities of its use as a speaking exercise, when students record their messages.

My Voki

An example of a Voki a student created

To sum up, I liked the simplicity and quality of this talking widget, but I immediately remembered the amount of language, computer skills and fun involved in the creation of Voki. I missed it here. In the part where these two can be used to achieve the same goal, they remain very different and both with a lot of possibilities for creative use in language learning.

1 comment:

  1. Finally, some app that could really be useful or us humans. And like the blue widget that I used, this really gives us something that we could give our time for a positive result. Great.